‘FREE? UMNO CAN NO LONGER BE TRUSTED, THEY DON’T KNOW OUR AGONY’: UNSURE OF MALAY VOTES EVEN WITH PAS, NAJIB NOW FACES FLIGHT OF BN PARTIES TO THE OPPOSITION
Last Saturday morning I was buying a packet of nasi lemak from a roadside stall, and the hawker asked me whether I had visited the Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism (MAHA) show. She told me it was free and I should go take a look.
Her husband, who was standing beside her, said, “Free? Umno can no longer be trusted. They don’t know our agony!”
From MAHA to Umno, I have to admit I was indeed a little taken aback. I am not sure how many Malays think like him, and perhaps these are the people that constitute the silent majority, people who won’t vent their frustration Facebook or take part in a Bersih rally. These are the people who only hope to get their families fed, and they are the very unhappy lot.
I have just returned from the Global Media Industry Development Conference in Macau. Assistant dean of the social sciences faculty of the University of Macau Agnes Lam told me she conducted a survey on the “Occupy Movement” in Hong Kong, and found that when Macanese talk about something controversial, their targets are generally their friends, families and colleagues, not the social media. This is because the bandwagon effect of social media platform does not seem to agree to people subscribing to “mainstream thinking” So, they opt to remain silent. In the end, those voicing up in social media belong to the two extreme ends such that it is hard for us to understand how majority of the people think.
This reminds me of the relative “lull” after former DPM Muhyiddin Yassin’s expulsion from Umno and Mahathir’s antagonistic attitude that might probably sound an alarming bell to Umno. A series of actions to purge the dissidents after the 1MDB scandal came to light has forced many Malays to stay silent.
Many would optimistically believe that BN will continue to win in GE14 after the Umno-PAS cooperation even though the coalition may lose the support of Chinese voters. I personally feel that it is still premature now to talk the political inclination of the Malays, and we can only get a clearer picture during the actual campaign period.
It is totally unwise for Umno to team up with PAS at the expense of Chinese votes. As a matter of fact, Chinese Malaysians are the pragmatic lot but their support can never be taken for granted. The community has new realizations after the last two general elections. They will not support DAP forever because we all know how much the party which claims it represents Chinese Malaysians has done for the community.
They voted for DAP in 2008 out of frustration, not because they loved the party so much. After Najib took over the premiership, he once thought of winning back the hearts of Chinese voters but his goodwill was not reciprocated by the community.
Somehow, people still hope that our leaders are capable of changing the history and do what is right, allowing the people to see hope in the midst of disappointments instead of pushing closer to the edge of desperation.
Umno intentionally changed the color of the party’s uniform to blue during the recent assembly in hope of bringing itself closer to BN. Unfortunately the delegates made a risky move by engaging the party’s archrival PAS, a move if not handled appropriately could spell the demise of the coalition.
When people start to realize that there are no permanent enemies in politics, only common interests at the expense of morality, it is no longer something inconceivable for MCA and other BN components to tie up with DAP and the opposition pact.
CLOSURE OF CHINESE PRIMARY SCHOOLS
Umno Youth vice chief Khairul Azwan Harun might have meant to win the hearts of Chinese voters, but his aggressive remarks have far exceeded the acceptable bottomline, sparking a powerful backlash from the community. It is utterly foolish for him to claim that if Chinese Malaysians were to continue to alienate the BN, there could be closures of Chinese primary schools.
Another clumsy move by Umno is the RUU355 tabled by PAS. The party’s unilateral decision without taking into consideration the feelings of other component parties has seriously destroyed the BN spirit, forcing MCA, MIC, Gerakan, etc. into a corner, making it hard for these parties to answer to their supporters and voters. If they fail to decisively take their stand, they might as well get ready to wind up.
By right Umno should have pondered how to bank on the strength of the Malaysian Chinese community to lead the Malay community onto China’s “One Belt One Road” bandwagon instead of riding the religious and “Malay grand unity” wave. The country can only go further ahead if Malaysians of all ethnic groups work together hand-in-hand.
The Malays can no longer be shortsighted and wrongly believe that Mandarin Chinese is only the mother tongue of the Chinese community, and thus wariness and enmity on mention of the language.
The entire world is learning the Chinese language in order to do business with China. It has become another very important international language after English, a fact the local Malay community cannot afford to overlook.
Umno’s ignorance has not only created more division in the country and frustration among the local Chinese, but has also usurped the Malay society of a rare opportunity to jump onto the Chinese bandwagon.
Umno must not neglect the youngsters in this country. They can choose to continue bearing their political burden and afflictions or take the bold stride forward to embrace our diverse heritage and moderation.
After the last two general elections, I have not seen any long-term pragmatic solution to boost racial harmony in the country. I am quite sure that the Malays, Chinese and Indians all want to see the country become more progressive and harmonious. Our leaders should strive to unite the people and not to create more division.
Unfortunately our leaders, be they from the ruling coalition or opposition, have failed to let us see the future of this country. What we see is more discontent, hatred and helplessness.